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Is Blackpool The Greatest Pro Underdog Of All Time?

Monday, 16 Aug 2010 | 3:49 PM ET

Those of you who know me know that I don’t care for soccer. I don’t follow it either. But I do follow good stories. So I had my eye on the Blackpool Football Club when they were promoted to the Premier League in May.

For those who are not familiar with the idea of promotion, it’s basically when minor league teams — if they play well enough — can become major league teams and vice versa.

Soccer
Soccer

In its first match this weekend, Blackpool — expected to finish last in the league — beat a team named Wigan 4-0. That was on the road, because it was said that Blackpool’s tiny stadium needed to undergo construction, adding 4,000 seats to bring the total capacity up to 17,500.

After the win, bookmaker William Hill lowered the odds against them winning the league from 10,000 to 1 to 2,000 to 1, scared about the $7.8 million in exposure it had on the line from small bets by Blackpool fans.

So how much of an underdog is Blackpool, who last played in the top flight in 1971? Well, financially speaking, they might be the greatest underdogs of all time.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Blackpool’s roster is being paid $3.1 million. At the top of the league is Manchester City, whose payroll is $237.1 million.

Think about that.

That means that Blackpool’s players are getting paid 1.3 percent of what Man City’s players are getting paid. How does that compare to other disparities?

How about 2006, when everyone made a huge deal of the disparity between the payroll of the New York Yankees ($194 million) and the Florida Marlins ($14.9 million)? The Marlins roster was being paid 7.7 percent of what the Yankees were making. Not even close to the uphill climb that Blackpool has.

The team’s next opponent is Arsenal. Arsenal’s payroll? $116 million. Not exactly ManU, but nothing close to the Marlins either. Blackpool players are getting paid 2.7 percent of what Arsenal players make.

What else is there to root for? Well, Blackpool’s fortunes could lead to the greatest percentage economic boom a team has ever provided in a single season in the history of sports. The town is so poor it has the lowest life expectancy in England and Wales; and real revitalization is on the line for the city if the team wins.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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